Journal of Literature and Art Studies
Utopias from ancient times to the present have come and gone. They remain as a part of literary, philosophical and historical texts and communal practices. Yet this subject has never ceased to inspire contemporary minds as well. My aim in this paper is to consider the communities known as favelas that have formed on the edges of the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro as a contemporary form of utopian community. The paper begins with a brief analysis of the concept of utopia. Then follows a discussion of the Favela as an urban utopia as seen from the perspective of Latin American philosopher Enrique Dussel’s philosophy of liberation as represented in his book, The Philosophy of Liberation. The remainder of the paper will consider in what sense the Favela settlements can be understood as a form of utopia. Among additional sources for this paper, I will refer to the research on the favelas by such scholars as Janice Perlman and Catalytic Communities. Other sources will include art projects in the favelas, the novel and film City of God made on site, and photographs of Miguel Rio Branco taken in the Favelas. All of these artists’ representations reflectactual experiences of life in the Favelas. An underlying question throughout will be the role that art might play in understanding utopias.
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